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Founded In 1993 by Ann Cotton in the UK
Type NGO
Methods Education of girls and empowerment of women
Mission Eradication of poverty in Africa

Camfed (also known as the Campaign for Female Education) is an international non-governmental, non-profit organization whose mandate is to eradicate poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women. Camfed programs operate in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi.

In October 2014, Camfed was recognised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for best practice in taking development innovation to scale. [7]

In November 2014, the World Innovation Summit for Education awarded Camfed President Ann Cotton the 2014 WISE Prize for Education.[8]


Camfed was founded by Ann Cotton after being inspired by her travels to Mola in Zimbabwe in 1991, where she investigated why girls’ secondary school enrolment in rural areas was so low. She found that poverty - not cultural reasons - was the root cause. She started raising awareness in her community and fund-raising by selling baked goods, supporting the first 32 girls into school in two of the most impoverished districts of Zimbabwe. [9]

In 1993, Cotton started Camfed (then ‘Cambridge Female Education Trust’). In 2013 Camfed directly supported 108,000 vulnerable and marginalised girls through school, bringing the total number of students who attended secondary school with Camfed’s support in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe during the first 20 years to 1,201,801.[10]

Anticipating the need for post-school economic opportunities in the students' communities, the Camfed Association (CAMA) was established in 1998 to connect young female school leavers and offer post-secondary school training opportunities in owning and managing money. Cama provides a structure through which its members can develop their activism and leadership. By 2013 CAMA had a membership of 24,436 with structures that extend from village to district, national and pan-African levels.[11]


Camfed International, a registered charity in the UK, established in 1993
Camfed Zimbabwe, established in 1993
Camfed Ghana, established in 1998
Camfed USA, established in 2001
Camfed Zambia, established in 2002
Camfed Tanzania, established in 2007
Camfed Malawi, established in 2009


Camfed focuses on rural areas of Africa where poverty is widespread, and girls and young women face massive exclusion from education and the opportunities that are afforded by education. Camfed works to build around girls a supportive environment in which they can attend, and succeed, at primary and secondary school, and progress into young adulthood with opportunities that include professional training, higher education and job creation.

Governance Model[edit]

International law firm Linklaters studied Camfed's governance model in 2010. In the resulting report, "Accounting to the Girl", Linklaters write: “Camfed has developed a governance model to deliver girls’ education in impoverished rural communities in subSaharan Africa...Camfed’s governance model works for two principal reasons. First, it requires Camfed to render account to the girls it supports...Second, Camfed’s governance model requires Camfed to establish good governance in rural communities through the implementation of various social assistance programs. Camfed’s programs take root in a community, bringing about long term and sustainable change, only when the community comes together, for example, to identify equitably and transparently the children who are to benefit from Camfed’s support. In other words, Camfed’s education and associated social assistance programs succeed because Camfed gives communities the power and responsibility to run the programs. It is this opportunity which enables communities to become capable, over the long term, of better supporting their children and themselves, through the practice of good governance.”[12]


Cama refers to the Camfed alumni. Cama members reinvest the benefits of their own education into their families and communities. They have set up their own pan-African organization in 1998, Cama (the Camfed Association), which has more than 24,436[11] members – among them doctors, lawyers and teachers.

The majority of Cama members are now rural businesswomen, achieving economic independence, providing goods and services and becoming role models for younger generations. Camfed has trained 4,878 Cama members as teachers for rural areas. Cama's local philanthropy and activism has provided 161,300 children with financial support from their own communities.

Each year, 150 Cama members are chosen to participate in Camfed's Leadership and Enterprise program in Zambia. Through the program, Cama members established one of the first IT centers in rural Zambia. Media workshops involving video and the internet give young women in struggling communities the opportunity to develop business and leadership skills, with the hopes that they will go on to empower others in their community.[13]

Notable supporters[edit]

Camfed is endorsed by actor Morgan Freeman, former US President Bill Clinton, journalist Allison Pearson, author Doris Lessing and actress Emma Watson.


Camfed’s platforms include the UNGEI Global Advisory Committee, Skoll Foundation World Forum, Schwab Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, the United States–Africa Leaders Summit and the Brookings Center for Universal Education.

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]